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5 Ways to Beat Digital Fatigue

By August 12, 2020

By: Jon Fee and Devi Thomas, leaders who spend more time on Google Meet than any other place on the planet

If you’ve been working from home, you’re likely facing some degree of digital fatigue. Screen fatigue is real. Spicing things up with virtual backgrounds bought us a little time, but as the dog days of summer drag on, we are all officially “Zoomed” out! What’s a marketer to do when the physical medium is on pause?

While shelter-in-place has made bakers, puzzlers, and artists out of many of us, we are still spending a significant amount of time with digital content. As 42% of the U.S. labor force continues to work from home full-time, we have heavily increased our reliance on our devices to keep us working, connected, and entertained. In fact, the average time spent with digital media is moving toward 7.5 hours per day.

Studies show that digital fatigue is real. Devi Thomas agrees.

Studies show that digital fatigue is real. Devi Thomas agrees.

Netflix and Hulu and Twitch…oh my!

Streaming services have been on the rise in recent years, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve seen a boom. Eighty percent of U.S. consumers now subscribe to at least one paid streaming video service, up from 73% in a pre-COVID survey. Whether you binge-watched Tiger King on Netflix (a fan favorite in the early days of the shelter-in-place), sung along to Hamilton on Disney Plus, or finally caught up on Stranger Things, it seems there is truly something for everyone. Generally, a wide range of options might be a good thing, but during a global pandemic, all bets are off. Streaming services are starting to see a higher-than-average churn–perhaps a result of too many options–which is expected to get worse as social distancing continues.

Unsurprisingly video gaming has also seen a surge in recent months. Since the start of the pandemic, 48% of U.S. consumers have participated in some form of video gaming activity. Unlike streaming, though, that number seems to be holding steady, indicating that people crave interactivity more than passive watching.

Video chat is the new bar scene

Speaking of interactivity, people are turning to video to stay connected with family, friends, and coworkers. Zoom in particular has seen a meteoric rise, reporting 300 million daily meeting participants. As virtual meetings replace hallway conversations, Microsoft Teams has seen a 70% jump to 75 million daily users, and Google Meet is adding 3 million users per day.

While many people use these platforms in more traditional ways, like business calls or catching up with friends, there are an increasing number of creative use cases like happy hours, concerts, quiz nights, weddings, and even fighting parking tickets.

What started off as a way to stay connected is now driving fatigue. This is a real issue as video chatting forces us to focus more intently, reduces natural silences, and creates a more intense feeling of being watched. People report feeling more drained than usual after a day at work. To make matters worse, because we use these tools for work, hopping on a call with friends is starting to feel like just another meeting.

Video chat is the new bar scene in the shelter-in-place era.

Marketing in the time of COVID

Our devices have helped us navigate COVID-19 with everything from grocery shopping to finding the best banana bread recipe out there. We’re finding, however, that you really can have too much of a good thing. While Internet traffic is still up compared to the beginning of the year, there is a steady decline in traffic week over week as people start to burn out on screen time.

As screen fatigue sets in, and social isolation continues, what’s a brand to do? Marketing to consumers during such a strange and stressful time can be difficult to navigate, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t stop – It might be instinctual to back off in times like these when, in fact, you should do the opposite. Not only has research shown that marketing through a crisis helps business in the long run, but consumer behavior is rapidly changing. People are picking up new habits, engaging with content in new ways, and trying new products. While your customers evolve, it’s best to stay top of mind–and relevant–so you can evolve with them.
  2. Personalize – As consumers become content-saturated and fatigued, it’s more important than ever to personalize. Relevance breeds attention, especially during a time when there is a desire to step away from devices. People are curating their digital experiences more than ever, and tools like Audience Studio help you break through by giving you a better understanding of what matters to your constituents. The result is an opportunity for you to reach them where they are with the most relevant content.
  3. Focus on agility – Agile marketing has historically been viewed as a short-term play. However, as the marketing landscape continues to evolve rapidly, it’s unlikely that your old playbooks will work. Use this time to generate fresh data and insights to understand who your customers are and how their preferences have changed. Interaction Studio helps you make real-time decisions based on how people are interacting with your campaign content.
  4. Get social– Despite digital fatigue, social media is still going strong. Traffic on Facebook has surged in recent months as people use the platform to connect with each other, and now LinkedIn is cool. With tools like Social Studio, you can engage with your community, create content based on their interests, and publish content across channels. A social-first approach enables you to stay in touch with your customers, and presents a unique opportunity to host contests, join conversations, create limited-time offers, and share updates on your brand and products.
  5. Show empathy – Last, but certainly not least–show constituents you care. Take time to understand what’s going on and identify key priorities. Be responsive! As so much uncertainty looms, now is the time to demonstrate your commitment to your constituents and your community. Avoid the hard sell. People are tired and wary of inauthentic messages. It’s a good time to share your values, and to show how you live by them as a brand.

As things change rapidly, we understand how overwhelming it can be to adjust your marketing strategy. You can accomplish all these recommendations and more with our Nonprofit Cloud. To reach and engage with constituents during this challenging time, check out our Marketing and Engagement solutions.